In most places, a pretzel is just a pretzel, but it seems that in Jerusalem, a city of many faiths and tensions, a tasty baked twist of dough can become a catalyst for a political protest.

Peddlers are not a rare sight in this city. In fact, Arab peddlers selling their merchandise – particularly pretzels (here called “beigeleh”) accompanied by a sprinkling of za’atar and sesame seeds – have become a symbol of the Old City over the years. Farther to the west, peddlers are most often found in the city center (mostly on King George Avenue and at the plaza near Hamashbir department store), selling tablecloths and other household utensils before Jewish holidays. On both sides – and this is important to emphasize – most of the peddlers work without official permits from the municipality. Municipalitymandated inspectors whose job is to prevent such situations cannot control most of them, simply because there are not enough inspectors for such a large city.

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